Former Ivorian police chief Brédou M’Bia, who is present in The Hague to testify in the Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé trial, continued giving evidence on Thursday, February 16.
Brédou M’Bia’s testimony, which started on Wednesday with a 24 hours’ delay following debates related to his protection, resumed on February 16 at the International Criminal Court (ICC). A technical problem first interrupted the barely open audience and irritated Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser, “My dream of a trouble-free day will not come true today.”
Eric MacDonald, lead prosecutor in the case, then resumed his interrogation with the exploration of the communication systems used within the state forces and, more specifically, within the police.
The complex network of police communications
MacDonald sought to explain the chain of transmission to the complex hierarchy and network of written or oral reports that were sent by mail, fax, radio, telephone, etc., as well as the terminology used for these reports related to everyday life or emergency. He also submitted to the witness a series of confidential police documents, handed over to the prosecutor’s investigators in November 2011, which the witness validated properly.
Starting work in his office at 6:00 a.m., the former Director-General of the National Police explained that he received three reports every morning and “informed the Minister of the Interior between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. by telephone and, if necessary, in person” by visiting him in his offices located in the Plateau district.
“In times of crisis, what was the frequency of these communications?” MacDonald asked.
“It all depended on circumstances. There was no pre-established frequency,” said the witness.
In the case of radio communications, the codes of each network or head of intervention unit were examined. “Each structure had its radio network,” said the witness, who said that Minos was the interface between the police and the gendarmerie networks and that his Command Post was located in the buildings of the Ministry of the Interior. Even the Minister’s code was disclosed.
“It was Atlas, but he rarely intervened,” said the senior police officer. This code was already mentioned on February 8 by witness Sinaly Dosso, former Staff Sergeant, and described “as an order-giver.”
The video of a Gbagbo speech
Turning to the period between the two rounds of the presidential election, from October 31 to November 28, 2010, the prosecutor showed a video about the installation of a new Republican security company called CRS 4. In this video one could see Gbagbo delivering a belligerent speech to his troops on August 3, 2010 in Divo.
The tasks that await you are the fight against filibusters, against the sowers of disorder, chaos, against havoc, but these are also tasks of peace with normal citizens who are entitled to go out and have a good time…You have as your enemies, I am not saying opponents but enemies, all those who are against the Republic and peace, all those who want to disturb the elections in Cote d’Ivoire…Your line of demarcation is clear between peace and disorder.
“Clubs, knives and machetes”
Brédou M’Bia first described the period between the two rounds as being “without real problem” with a “normal atmosphere where everyone expects his candidate to win.”
However, when asked about the “roadblocks erected by the Ivorian youth,” the situation seems less calm than evoked. “Who was holding these roadblocks?” asked the prosecutor.
“The RDR [Rally of Republicans] and the LMP [League of the Movement for Progress] who prevented free movement,” responded the witness”
“Were they armed?”
“They had clubs, knives, and machetes.”
In a statement to the investigators concerning the lifting of these roadblocks in Abidjan, he said that “when Riviera students came in numbers, they were sometimes better armed than us. So we had to negotiate for them to leave these roadblocks. “It was also reported that a curfew was in place around November 27 and that the witness, informed by his collaborators “of threats to public order during the vote” allegedly “gave instructions with regard to firearms, which were not be used except in self-defense.”
To protect Brédou M’Bia from the risk of self-incrimination, answers to crucial questions concerning the armed forces were systematically given in private session. This was the case with the last question of the day: “Were crimes committed by the FDS brought to your attention?”
Only those who were present in the courtroom could hear the answer.
Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé are charged with four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and other inhumane acts, or – in the alternative – attempted murder and persecution. The accused allegedly committed these crimes during post-electoral violence in Côte d’Ivoire between December 16, 2010 and April 12, 2011.
This summary comes from Ivoire Justice, a project of Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW), which offers monitoring and commentary on the ICC’s proceedings arising from the post-election violence that occurred in Cote d’Ivoire in 2010-2011. It has been translated into English for use on International Justice Monitor.